Terrorism: President Bush's Record vs. President Obama's Promises

January 26, 2009

The Associated Press, MSNBC, and the Los Angeles Times all have viciously attacked President Bush and his farewell speech which he gave on January 16th. LA Times writer Peter Wallsteen, who titled his article "Bush Ends with a Whimper," critiqued the President's speech by whining that President Bush "in effect sought to bring viewers back in time seven years, to the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, a period in which he enjoyed record-high approval ratings, in the 90s." Wallsteen noted that the President is leaving the White House with his approval ratings in the 30s.

President Bush addressed the short memories of people like Wallsteen when he noted: "This evening, my thoughts return to the first night I addressed you from this house ... September 11, 2001. That morning, terrorists took nearly 3,000 lives in the worst attack on America since Pearl Harbor. ...As the years passed, most Americans were able to return to life much as it had been before 9-11. But I never did. Every morning, I received a briefing on the threats to our nation. I vowed to do everything in my power to keep us safe."

And, he succeeded. Because of the actions he took, such as creating the Department of Homeland Security and transforming the military, the intelligence community and the FBI, other planned attacks were thwarted. We have not suffered another attack in the past 7-plus years. Of course, if Obama delivers what he has promised, i.e. a smaller military and intelligence effort, it will probably follow that we may not be free from terrorist attacks in the future.

MSNBC commentator, Keith Olbermann, quoted President Bush's former press secretary, Scott McClellan, who wrote a best seller slamming President Bush after resigning, or being asked to resign, that belittled President Bush's concern about possible future terrorist attacks and actually accused the President of having "really tarnished the government's moral standing" by his anti-terrorist actions. In his speech President Bush warned: "While our nation is safer than it was seven years ago, the gravest threat to our people remains another terrorist attack. Our enemies are patient and determined to strike again. America did nothing to seek or deserve this conflict. But we have been given solemn responsibilities, and we must meet them. We must resist complacency. We must keep our resolve. And we must never let down our guard.

"At the same time, we must continue to engage the world with confidence and clear purpose. In the face of threats from abroad, it can be tempting to seek comfort by turning inward. But we must reject isolationism and its companion, protectionism. Retreating behind our borders would only invite danger. In the 21st century, security and prosperity at home depend on the expansion of liberty abroad. If America does not lead the cause of freedom, that cause will not be lead.

"As we address these challenges - and others we cannot foresee tonight - America must maintain our moral clarity. I have often spoken to you about good and evil. This has made some uncomfortable. But good and evil are present in this world and between the two there can be no compromise. Murdering the innocent to advance an ideology is wrong every time, everywhere. Freeing people from oppression and despair is eternally right. This Nation must continue to speak out for justice and truth. We must always be willing to act in their defense and to advance the cause of peace."

Obviously, Scott McClellan does not believe that fighting terrorists is a "moral" activity.

The Associated Press basically condemned President Bush's efforts to stop terrorism. When President Bush reminded us that: "Iraq has gone from a brutal dictatorship and a sworn enemy of America to an Arab democracy at the heart of the Middle East and a friend of the United States," the Associated Press complained:

"He did not mention that violence in Iraq still persists despite improved security, that Iraq remains gripped by hostility between Shiite and Sunni Muslims, that most Americans think the war was a mistake, and that weapons of mass destruction -- the original rationale for the war -- were never found."

The fact that weapons of mass destruction were not found when the troops entered Baghdad does not mean they never existed. Saddam Hussein used weapons of mass destruction, (chemical weapons) on both the Kurds and the Iranians. By the time the American troops entered Baghdad, those WMD may very well have been moved to Syria, as the Israeli intelligence claims.

As for hostility between the Shiite and Sunni Muslims, they have been at war with each other for over 1,300 years and the hostility between them is not going to be ended by anything any American leader could think up. The hostility between the Shiites and the Sunnis began in 632 AD about how to choose Mohammed's successor and it is still going on. The purpose of President Bush's invasion of Iraq was to stop terrorism that Saddam Hussein was financing and encouraging and to force him to abide by the agreement he signed following Desert Storm when his troops were driven out of Kuwait. It was not about the 1,300 year old battle among Muslims about choosing their religious leaders.

Of course, at the present time, terrorism is not the issue most people are concerned about. The issue of 2009 so far is the financial meltdown that has occurred worldwide. Furthermore, based on the stock market's behavior since it became apparent that Obama would win the election, a thriving economy is probably not expected by the business community that must create it. The stock market was over 13,000 the first week of January, 2008, and remained in the 12,000 to 13,000 range until July when it dropped into the 11,000 range.

Then candidate Obama announced, in his Blueprint for Change, that he would raise capital gains taxes from 15% to 28%, enact a windfall profits tax on "excessive oil company profits" protect trade unions from foreign competition by eliminating "right to work" laws, and use trade agreements to spread "good labor and environmental standards around the world."

While that undoubted helped Obama get more votes from members of labor unions and those who support his efforts to "share the wealth", it would not encourage business owners to take the necessary risks to expand or start new business ventures and hire more employees. Why take risks when profits will be seized by the government?

By October 15, 2008 the Dow Jones had dropped to 8,577.91 and by November 20th following the election of Obama, the flight of capital dropped the Dow Jones to 7,552.29 when an unprecedented 9,093,740,000 shares were sold in one day. That was double the shares sold on May 6, 2008 when the Dow Jones hit 13,020.83 indicating a 42% drop in the value of stocks in a six month period.

In his Blueprint for Change, Obama also promised to "Provide $50 billion to jump start the economy and prevent one million Americans from losing their jobs." Since Obama promised $50 billion to help the economy Congress has passed, and President Bush has signed, a bill providing $750 Billion to address the problems created by a worldwide financial meltdown. That meltdown was caused mainly by years of "share-the-wealth" legislation that required lending institutions to provide mortgages to minorities or disadvantaged people who could not qualify for loans under normal business standards. It appears, at this point, that many of the foreclosed homes will become public housing through the financial rescue plans that are being advanced.

As Barack Obama enters the White House, it would appear that he has already brought a remarkable amount of the "change" he promised his supporters, even before taking office. Considering the level of media hostility towards President George W. Bush, it is remarkable that he has more than a third of the population supporting him at this point. As President Bush pointed out in his farewell address, his major concern has been the safety and security of the American people. Obama promises to change just about everything President Bush did in his 8 years in office and he has a Democrat controlled Congress to quickly and easily implement reversals of President Bush's efforts.

Today President Obama has something like an 83% approval rating. Of course, in President Bush's first year in office, he had a 90% approval rating. Was the general public wrong in 2001 about President Bush, or are they wrong now about President Bush?

Only time will tell how much the average American voter will like the changes Obama's presidency will bring.

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Copyright ©2009 Mary Mostert